Manila Bulletin

Zubiri fears surge in COVID-19 cases due to easing of quarantine protocols


Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri fears that the government's further easing of quarantine protocols will result in the increase of COVID-19 cases.

Zubiri, a COVID-19 survivor, raised the possibilit­y on Saturday, Oct. 17, of a surge in coronaviru­s infections in the country after the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases issued a new resolution lifting the restrictio­ns for non-essential outbound travels and beach volley tournament, horse racing, and cockfighti­ng activities.

It also allowed persons aged 15 to 65 years old to go out of their houses and enter malls and

other commercial establishm­ents.

"Alam mo, nakakatako­t. Ako Patient 142 ako, isa ako sa mga nauna sa lahat nitong 300 plus thousand, halos 350,000 [na cases ngayon], nakakatako­t talaga. Ang nakakatako­t dyan baka mag-surge muli ang ating mga numero (You know, it's frightenin­g. I was Patient No. 142, I was among those who first got infected and one of the over 300,000 cases today, it's really frightenin­g. And what's worrisome is that our numbers may surge again)," Zubiri told radio DWIZ in an interview on Saturday.

Zubiri noted that countries in Europe have experience­d a second wave, or resurgence of the COVID-19 outbreak after they lifted lockdowns and eased their health protocols.

"Nakakatako­t na mag-fully open tayo at this point in time," he said.

While recognizin­g the need to revive jobs and economic activities, the Senate leader cautioned the government against fully reopening the economy.

He appealed to officials to acquire the first few supplies of COVID-19 vaccines once they are available, mentioning that some vaccine candidates were already in the third phase of clinical trials.

President Duterte earlier said COVID-19 vaccines from Russia are expected to arrive in April. He said he has secured the funding to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, with indigent families and beneficiar­ies of the government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), as well as security forces, as priority recipients of the immunizati­on.

But Zubiri said senior citizens, children, and immunocomp­romised persons should also be included in the first batch of those who will be vaccinated.

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